The box office continues to do well, leading up to the summer movie season starting in just a few short weeks. Much of that success still points to the overwhelming showing for one single movie in particular.
This Past Weekend
Universal Pictures, Illumination Entertainment and Nintendo have delivered the first mega-blockbuster of the year, as The Super Mario Bros. Movie passed the $400 million milestone in just three weeks. This weekend, it added another $58.2 million, down 37 percent, which was enough to bring its North American total to $434.3 million. It’s mere days away from passing last year’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, which was the third highest-grossing movie of the year, although James Cameron‘s Avatar: The Way of Water made much of its money in early 2023. It’s currently Universal’s third-highest grossing movie (not accounting for inflation) after Jurassic World and Steven Spielberg‘s E.T. the Extraterrestrial.
Super Mario Bros. added another $70.7 million overseas this weekend, bringing its international gross to $437.5 million, with an $871.8 million global total.
Warner Bros. and New Line released the horror reboot, Evil Dead Rise, into 3,402 theaters on Friday with previews on Thursday that brought in $2.5 million. Written and directed by Lee Cronin, the R-rated horror movie received rave reviews out of its SXSW Film Festival debut in March, which led to an estimated opening weekend of $23.5 million after making $10.3 million on Friday (including Thurs. previews). It averaged $6,908 per theater, the second-best showing in the top 10, although its “B” CinemaScore (on par with M3gan) might be a sign for how well it holds up over coming weeks. Evil Dead Rise made another $16.9 million in 59 overseas markets.
Opening in 2,611 theaters was the MGM war drama, Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Dar Salim. It made an estimated $6.3 million or $2,405 per theater in its opening frame after receiving solid reviews, as well as scoring an “A” via CinemaScore, which is the same as what Ritchie’s live action Aladdin for Disney received in 2019.
Keanu Reeves‘ John Wick: Chapter 4 fell to fourth place with $5.8 million, a negligible 28 percent drop off from last weekend with $168.9 million grossed so far. It’s just over $2 million away from passing 2019’s John Wick: Chapter 3 to achieve a franchise high.
Ben Affleck‘s Air has been doing relatively well for Amazon Studios, remaining in fifth place this weekend with $5.6 million (down 29 percent) to bring its North American total to $41.9 million, which is generally better than many adult-targeted dramas have done over the past few years.
It’s still too early to tell if Paramount Pictures has done well enough with Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves to warrant a sequel, but it brought its domestic take to $82.2 million this weekend with a sixth place showing of $5.4 million (also down just 28 percent).
Most of last week’s movies took massive tumbles, including Sony‘s The Pope’s Exorcist, starring Russell Crowe, which dropped from second place down to seventh with $3.3 million (down 63 percent) and just $14.9 million total.
Universal’s horror-comedy Renfield, starring Nicholas Hoult and Nicolas Cage, also had a massive second weekend drop, down 61 percent to $3.1 million and $10.5 million grossed domestically.
A24 expanded Ari Aster‘s horror-comedy Beau is Afraid, starring Joaquin Phoenix, into 962 theaters after a strong platform release in New York and L.A., but it made just $2.7 million to take ninth place, averaging $2,827 per theater. A24 will likely expand it into more areas next weekend, which might allow it to remain in the top 10 for one more weekend. Reviews for Beau have been all over the place with this one, including Above the Line‘s Isaac Feldberg, who hated it.
Searchlight Pictures released the historical biopic, Chevalier, starring Kelvin Harrison Jr. and Samara Weaving, into 1,275 theaters where it just missed out on the top 10 with an estimated $1.5 million, $1,176 average per site.
Ray Romano‘s directorial debut, Somewhere in Queens, was released by Roadside Attractions into 602 theaters where it grossed $681,770 or $1,132 per theater.
Music Box Films released the French film, Other People’s Children, into three theaters in New York and Chicago, where it brought in $14,811 with plans to expand to L.A. and other cities this coming Friday.
Sony Pictures Classics released Benjamin Millepied‘s directorial debut, Carmen, into three New York and L.A. theaters where it made $12,838 or $4,279 per location.
The DreamWorks Animation animated film, The Bad Guys, featuring the voices of Sam Rockwell, Marc Maron, Awkwafina, and more, opened in first place with a mere $24 million in 4,009 theaters. It was not a great kick-off for a rare non-sequel from the animation studio.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 held up well in second place with $15.6 million (down 47 percent in its third weekend), while Warners’ Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore had a far bigger 67 percent drop to take third place with $14 million in its second weekend. Sonic 2 was at $146.3 million after three weekends, which put it just ahead of Uncharted to become the second-biggest movie of 2022.
Also, Robert Eggers‘ historic epic The Northman, starring Alexander Skarsgård, Anya Taylor-Joy, Nicole Kidman, and more, opened in 3,234, a rather wide release for Focus Features, and that was only enough for it to open in fourth place with $12.3 million or $3,800 per theater.
It fared better than Lionsgate‘s The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, starring Nicolas Cage and Pedro Pascal, which opened in fifth place with a disappointing $7.1 million in 3,036 theaters.
Although The Super Mario Bros. Movie will most definitely win its fourth and final weekend at #1, there are still a few movies getting a late April release in hopes of making some money before the big summer tentpole movies land. (Above the Line should have a summer box office preview to share in the next week.)
Lionsgate is releasing Kelly Fremon Craig‘s Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, adapted from Judy Blume‘s best-selling 1970 young adult novel, into 3,000 theaters on Friday where it hopes to appeal to the large group of women of various ages who grew up reading Judy Blume. One of those books finally being adapted into a theatrical feature is pretty major, and it will be seen as a first choice for those whose lives have been shaped by Blume’s writing.
The movie stars relative newcomer Abby Rider Fortson (Ant-Man and the Wasp) as the title character, but also Rachel McAdams, Kathy Bates, and Benny Safdie, not that any name recognition will matter for the cast when it’s all about Judy Blume and the name brand value of her well-known novel.
With nothing else like this currently in theaters to entice women and girls, this should be good for an opening in the $14 to 16 million range to knock Evil Dead Rise out of second place, although the next two weekends introduce a lot more female-friendly fare, so we’ll have to see how this holds up.
Sony is releasing Big George Foreman: The Miraculous Story of the Once and Future Heavyweight Champion of the World – yes, that’s the full title of the movie – into roughly 2,800 theaters this weekend with specially-targetted marketing that focuses on the spiritual aspects of the boxing great’s story. The movie stars Khris Davis (Atlanta, Space Jam: A New Legacy) as Foreman, but the biggest name otherwise is Oscar-winner Forest Whitaker.
Boxing movies tend to still do quite well with movie audiences, as seen by the success of Creed III. Big George Foreman benefits from being about one of the most famous boxers after maybe Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson, plus it’s getting the full support of the still-living Foreman. Oddly, the movie does have more going for it than Sony’s Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody, which opened with less than $5 million just before Christmas and wound up with $23.7 million domestically. Despite its dubious late April release, Big George Foreman should still be able to make in the $7 to 10 million range to put it in fourth place behind Evil Dead Rise.
Finnish filmmaker Jalmari Helander (Big Game, Rare Exports) returns with the R-rated action-thriller SISU, which Lionsgate will release into 900 or so theaters this Friday, probably the widest release for a movie from Finland in North America? Set during World War II, it stars Helander regular Jorma Tommila as a former soldier who finds a cache of gold and then has to fight off and systematically slaughter the Nazis who want to take it from him. Without much in terms of star power but a fantastic trailer that should appeal to genre fans, SISU is likely to end up in tenth place or just outside with around $2 million. (Look for my interview with filmmaker Jalmari Helander very soon.)
Another movie to keep an eye on is the Telugu language Ponniyin Selvan: Part II, which is the conclusion to the 2022 epic, which opened with $4 million in just 500 theaters last September. Opening in roughly the same number of theaters, the conclusion could see a similar opening, which would allow it to open in the top five.
Edward Douglas has been writing about the box office for 21 years at places like ComingSoon.net, The Tracking Board, and many others, but mostly under the banner of “The Weekend Warrior.” He’s also a film critic with bylines at Film Journal, The New York Daily News, Den of Geek, and more.